Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
- Headache facts
- What is a headache?
- How are headaches classified?
- What are primary headaches?
- What are secondary headaches?
- What are cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches?
- What causes tension headaches?
- What are the symptoms of tension headaches?
- How are tension headaches diagnosed?
- How are tension headaches treated?
- What causes cluster headaches?
- What are the symptoms of cluster headaches?
- How are cluster headaches diagnosed?
- How are cluster headaches treated?
- Can cluster headaches be prevented?
- What diseases cause secondary headaches?
- How are secondary headaches diagnosed?
- What are the exams and tests for secondary headaches?
- When should I seek medical care for a headache?
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- The head is one of the most common sites of pain in the body.
- The most common types of headache can be classified as 1) primary, 2) secondary, and 3) cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches.
- The most common types of primary headaches are 1) tension, 2) migraine, and 3) cluster.
- Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headache and usually are treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications for pain.
- Secondary headaches are a symptom of an injury or an underlying illness.
- Patients should seek medical care for new onset headaches, fever, stiff neck, change in behavior, vomiting, weakness, or change in sensation.
What is a headache?
Headache is defined as a pain arising from the head or upper neck of the body. The pain originates from the tissues and structures that surround the brain because the brain itself has no nerves that give rise to the sensation of pain (pain fibers). The periosteum that surrounds bones; muscles that encase the skull, sinuses, eyes, and ears; and meninges that cover the surface of the brain and spinal cord, arteries, veins, and nerves, all can become inflamed or irritated to cause the pain of a headache. This pain may be a dull ache, sharp, throbbing, constant, mild, or intense.
How are headaches classified?
In 2005, the International Headache Society released its latest classification system for headache. Because so many people suffer from headaches and because treatment sometimes is difficult, it was hoped that the new classification system would help health care professionals make a specific diagnosis as to the type of headache and allow better and more effective options for treatment.
There are three major categories of headache based upon the source of the pain:
- primary headaches;
- secondary headaches; and
- cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches.
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